EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The pandemic has made many of us focus even more on infectious diseases.

But a Luzerne County native had a contagious disease on her radar before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 and set out to do something about it.

Debra Vanderhoff grew up in Kingston before setting off into the business world. She’s now putting the business degree she earned from Misericordia University into a product she claims will revolutionize germ-fighting.

“80 percent of the germs that we intake and get sick from are spread by the hands,” said Debra Vanderhoff – Co-founder/C.O.O, Germpass.

Debra Vanderhoff is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of GermPass.

Patent-pending technology uses sealed germ contamination chambers that fit around such things as doorknobs, bathroom door handles, and elevator buttons.

“It automatically kills germs on public touchpoints within five seconds after every single touch and this is done through semiconductors, UV led lighting,” said Vanderhoff.

Fighting such things as bacteria and viruses is personal to Vanderhoff whose 33-year-old friend had an ear infection that developed into a staph infection.

“She literally probably touched a door handle or something transferred staph into her ear and literally died within a few days of diagnosis. We said how is this possible,” said Vanderhoff.

Millions of cases of preventable infectious diseases happen each year to people who become sickened in places like schools, stores, and cruise lines.

“This is something that changes the game and will protect a lot of people,” GermPass Co-found, husband, Chris Hickey says.

Vanderhoff and her husband, Chris Hickey, launched GermPass in February at the Harvard Club in New York City.

“We wake up every day knowing that once GermPass is deployed we’ll be saving lives while we slept and that’s a pretty awesome responsibility and an exciting way to go through life,” said Chris Hickey.

They plan to pilot GermPass this summer starting with a group of pediatric centers in Jacksonville, Florida.

“It was all about how can we save lives, how can we make a difference,” Chris Hickey said.

“We look at GermPass as being one of those inventions that truly can change the world,” said Vanderhoff.

Vanderhoff and Hickey plan a mass distribution of GermPass in November.

To learn more about their patent-pending invention click here to head to their website.